How was your weekend? I know many of my US readers are probably either already on holiday or soon will be, considering Thanksgiving is coming up on Thursday. Because of this, I figured a post related to a recurring holiday problem would be appropriate today: overeating.
Without fail, one of the most common questions I get asked by my health coaching clients around this time of year goes along the lines of:
“I’m worried about undoing all of my progress over the holidays. Do you have any tips?”
Like many other food-related topics, this is something I could go on about forever. The featured article in my upcoming December newsletter will be all about avoiding holiday overindulgences (and if you’re not already signed up for that, you can do so here), but if I could give just one piece of advice, it would be to crowd out your plate with as many veggies and fruits as possible.
- Fruits and vegetables are full of vitamins and minerals – but you already knew that.
- Most are very water-dense and low in calories relative to other foods. They’re also high in fiber, and the water + fiber combo results in satiety (feeling satisfied).
- By loading up your plate with mostly produce and eating these foods first, chances are that you’ll feel full sooner, making it easier to stop eating when your stomach tells you it’s had enough. (Of course, after that, your job is to listen and put down your fork.)
Sounds pretty simple, right? But don’t just take my word for it – science has actually found this to be true! Recently, researchers at Cornell university conducted a study on this very thing. They had 2 groups of people line up in separate buffet lines. Both tables had the same foods on them, but one had all of the healthier dishes positioned at the beginning. The researchers found that the people who lined up at this table ate healthier meals and consumed 31% less food overall than the people at the other table.
Of course, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have the other foods we enjoy only at this time of year – after all, it just wouldn’t be the same without your favourite stuffing, turkey, pie, or whatever special dishes are holiday traditions in your family. But, by starting out with healthier foods and healthy intentions, it’ll be easier for you to stick to proper portion sizes and avoid those tired, sluggish, bloated feelings we experience after eating too much.
I know that not everyone loves vegetables as much as I do, but if you’re looking for a little inspiration, here’s a tasty way to enjoy two seasonal picks – beets and winter squash.
Maple Balsamic Roasted Beets and Squash
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 18 mins
Ingredients (4 servings)
- 5 small/medium beets, washed and peeled and cut into chunks, about 4 cups
- 1 small winter squash such as acorn, buttercup or delicata, peeled, seeded and diced (about 3 cups)
- 1 tbsp each olive oil and maple syrup
- 1/3 cup dark balsamic vinegar
- 1/8 tsp each coarse sea salt and black pepper
- 1/2 tsp herbs de provence (or your choice of dried mixed herbs)
- Preheat the oven to 400F.
- Heat some water in a pot and place a steamer basket over top. Put the beets and squash pieces in the basket and steam for 5 minutes. (You can skip this step if you like, but you will need to roast the vegetables for 30-45 mins.)
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a small bowl, stir together the olive oil, maple syrup, and balsamic vinegar.
- Transfer the vegetables into a large bowl and pour the balsamic mixture over top. Toss to coat and allow the vegetables to soak up some of the liquid for 5 minutes.
- Spread the squash and beets in an even layer on the parchment paper. Sprinkle with sea salt, black pepper, and herbs.
- Roast in the oven for 15 minutes, then remove and flip the vegetable pieces over. Insert them back in the oven for 3 minutes on the high broil setting.
- Serve hot.
Of course, if you’re not a huge beet fan, you could easily swap in any other firm seasonal veggie here – sweet potatoes, carrots, turnips and Brussels sprouts would all be fabulous too!
So tell me…
- For my US friends: What’s in your Thanksgiving feast this year?
- For everyone: What are your strategies for avoiding overindulgence over the holidays? (As I mentioned above, I’ll be talking about more tips in my December newsletter, so be sure to sign up here if you want to get in on those.)